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SRI International receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant

MENLO PARK, Calif. May 6, 2008 SRI International announced today that it has received a US$100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support an innovative global health research project conducted by Krishna Kodukula, Ph.D., executive director of SRI International's Center for Advanced Drug Research (CADRE) in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia and Amit Galande, Ph.D., associate director of Proteomics and Protein Biochemistry at CADRE, titled "Combating Antibiotic Resistance in Tuberculosis."

SRI's project is one of 81 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the second funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. The grants were provided to scientists in 17 countries on six continents, selected from more than 3,000 proposals received by the Foundation in this highly competitive round of funding.

To receive funding, Kodukula and Galande showed in a two-page application how their idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. SRI's research project will address the problem of antibiotic resistance and the need for broad-spectrum antibiotics. Resistant strains of tuberculosis will initially be screened. Based on those results, the project will be expanded to include other pathogenic bacteria that can lead to the development of the next generation of antibiotics.

Since proteins that are antibiotic targets are prone to mutations that can result in antibiotic resistance, researchers will target non-protein components of cells. Small organic molecule metabolites that are essential for the growth and survival of pathogenic bacteria will be used as targets for antibiotic discovery.

"Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health problem around the world," said Dr. Kodukula. "It can change the course of infections that are treatable and lead to diseases that are difficult to cure. Drug resistant strains of tuberculosis pose a grave threat to global health because treatment options are becoming severely limited."

"The winners of these grants are doing truly exciting and innovative work," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program. "I'm optimistic that some of these exploratory projects will lead to life-saving breakthroughs for people in the world's poorest countries."


Contact: Dina Basin
SRI International

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